Wellness. It’s an elusive goal that all of us are striving for and it means different things to different people. In a year when we have realized more than ever that health is wealth, it seems apropos that Chicago would debut a space for holistic wellness, combining all the elements of health under one roof.
BIÂN is a private health and social club, combining Eastern and Western philosophies and practices to give members an arsenal of tools to meet their needs. Upon joining, a member meets with their BIÂN advisor, who creates an individualized wellness plan utilizing the club’s various medical and fitness specialists. What sets BIÂN apart is how closely these specialists communicate with one another, ensuring that your acupuncturist, nutritionist and personal trainer, for example, are all on the same page and working in tandem to help you achieve your goals.
“We are merging healthcare with hospitality and a high level of service in every element of the club,” says president Robb Leone. “We want this to be an extension of your home.” With just 400 founding members so far, Leone is striving to create a community of people supporting one another in healthy living and simply having a good time along the way.
Interior design by Karen Herold evokes comfort and calm. All of the artwork, including slow shutter speed photos of Michigan Avenue and blurred movement images are by local artist Dominca Fisher. Sustainability is a key value, evidenced by the bamboo towels and cork-based yoga mats. Infrared heaters for hot yoga classes accompany Technogym and Outrace Fitness equipment, and come summer, the gym walls will open up to the Chicago Riverwalk for outdoor classes. Courtesy of Covid-19, Synexis air filters that kill virus and bacteria upon contact have been installed in every room, along with nightly electrostatic disinfection.
An annual membership at BIÂN is $3,600 plus a $1,000 initiation fee. Membership includes access to group classes, the club’s social spaces, events and favorable pricing to a wide range of of beauty, fitness and spa therapies, along with consultations for stress management, Chinese herbs and nutrition.
Medical concierge services are available as well, including annual executive physicals and bloodwork. Currently, Covid-19 antibody tests and flu shots have been especially popular for members. Dr. Marcie Claybon is the director of concierge medicine and says that she’s able to spend much more time with her patients at BIÂN than when she was practicing at Northwestern Medicine. “I’ve always been interested in meditation, fitness and integrative medicine,” Claybon says. “At Northwestern it was purely Western-based training and I had 2,000 patients. Here, I have just 200 and I’m working closely with a naturopathic doctor, acupuncturist and fitness instructors.”
There’s a Hästens bed nap room for jet-lagged guests and a listening room with a collection of more than 1,500 records (many donated by members) and McIntosh sound system. It’s quickly become a favorite place for members to work on their laptops and will be available for small groups to rent for private functions. Like many spaces at the club, it’s multi-purpose. Come here for some easy listening after a meditation class, for sushi and bottle service or to have a wild dance party.
“I think this is the most acoustically sound room in the city of Chicago,” Leone says. “You can’t hear anything outside these doors.”
Boka’s Lee Wolen and Momotaro’s Gene Kato designed the all-day cafe menu, with nourishing bowls, wraps, salads and sushi, alongside creative smoothies, La Colombe Coffee and Rare Tea Cellars tea. The Phoenix Bean tofu wrap with spicy peanut sauce, avocado and kimchi is a favorite among the staff. All menu items are accompanied by nutritional facts so members can make educated choices that align with their health goals. Wine and cocktails are available too, because we can have everything in moderation. At BIÂN there are no hard and fast rules.
“There’s a more personalized level of service that we are able to offer here as a private club,” explains director of hospitality Kate Haleblian, who previously worked as director of private events for Girl & the Goat. “I want this to be a sanctuary for our members.”
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Amber Gibson spends 340 nights a year in hotels searching for the latest and greatest in the travel industry. Her writing and photographs have appeared in print, online, and on the radio for outlets including Four Seasons Magazine, NPR, Saveur, Departures, Rhapsody, Hemispheres, American Way, Private Air, Wine Folly, Plate, Chicago Magazine, Tasting Table, and Serious Eats. She graduated as valedictorian from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and received a fellowship to attend the 2017 Wine Writers Symposium at Meadowood Napa Valley. Champagne, dark chocolate, and gelato are her biggest weaknesses. She also admires and supports CAASE in Chicago. Follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter.